MN National Guard has success amid US Army’s sweeping recruitment overhaul announcement
The U.S. Army wants to change the way they recruit as they are seeing an enlistment shortfall but those at the Minnesota National Guard are seeing an upward trend.
In fact, the MN National Guard ranks in the top five in recruiting. This past year, the MN Army Guard has met their mission of recruiting 1,200 troops. The MN Air Guard says they also met their target too.
“I think one reason why we might be doing so good, is because we have really good retention,” said Air Force Chief Master Lisa Erikson. “So, when the soldiers and airmen come to the drill, they come and work and train with people that like what they’re doing, you know, we’re putting people in jobs they want to do. So, when you like what you’re doing. It’s a great place to come up for your drill weekend.”
Army Sgt. Major Matt Jasper says they target anybody who is between 18 and 35 years old. He says diversity within the National Guard is also important.
“To have us look like the people in the communities they serve in, it really brings a lot of comfort to those people in the communities,” said Jasper.
Despite the accomplishments, recruiting has been a hurdle as more people have lost interest and test scores in high school students have gone down since COVID-19.
“There’s a very low population that wants to serve and then of that population, it’s even lower of those who can serve who meet the aptitude and the physical requirements,” Erikson said.
Just this month, the U.S. Army announced a sweeping overhaul of its recruiting efforts as it fell 15,000 people short of its 60,000 enlistment goal last year. The Army wants to plan larger Army career fairs and restructure the command staff. They say increased bonuses are also under consideration. A major change includes forming a professional recruiting workforce, something the MN National Guard has already successfully been doing. The National Guard has nearly 60 recruiting sites across the state.
“With recruiting, it’s just really getting down to the basics. And it’s not just the recruiting force, it’s the operation staff that help us out,” said Army Sgt. Major Matt Jasper. “It’s really a robust program. That’s where we’re a little bit ahead of some of the other states and territories as far as the support staff. It’s a one-stop shop for us as far as putting people in.”
When asked why somebody should serve in the National Guard, Erickson says it’s an opportunity to make a difference.
“It’s your opportunity to be part of something that’s bigger than you and it’s your opportunity to give back. It’s a really nice way to give back to your community,” said Erickson.
The National Guard has expanded its Future Soldier Prep course to help youth with academic or physical fitness barriers to meet the Army’s enlistment standards.